FUCK it, it's already 60º outside at 7 AM, but I couldn't resist a peek at Brooks' Friday rebranding efforts. (I can hardly wait for the Vast Moderate Army to march onto the News Hour set tonight. I'm hoping for a pitched battle with the Propellerheads.)
Let's go back a bit. On Wednesday Somerby took this Ed Kilgore reply to Brooks' last column to task for obscuring Brooks' point ("We're piling up deficits!").
Now, our response is pretty simple--obvious, even--we think that what David Brooks writes is not congruent with what he thinks, or what he means. The fact is that we find Brooks among the most disingenuous of public men. He's a Reagan fanboy. He carries just as much of the Right's water per pound as Rush Limbaugh, but we're supposed to recognize some large qualitative difference because Brooks espouses some liberal social ideas. Rather, because he's said to; where are those columns, exactly? He's taken his Party to task over gay marriage, say, once or twice, but generally in the sense that Bronze Age authoritarianism was bad for electoral opportunities and bad for Business. Has there been a staunch defense of reproductive rights from the man? The occasional elevation of Martin Luther King, Jr., to plaster sainthood does not make one compassionate, clear-eyed, or demonstrate an understanding of the various enormities inflicted on minorities in this Hemisphere since Columbus first waded ashore. Christ, Jonah Goldberg can play that one. The fact remains that Brooks promotes himself as the tolerant, non-raw-meat-feasting face of Republicanism, and then he votes with the Neanderthals every last fucking time. While, we may add, trying to "persuade" others to do so by convincing them that, in essence, they're really not, because David Brooks is so mild and reasonable and non-threatening he'd never be driven to thoughts of a shooting rampage at the thought of two men marrying. When will we figure out who the real criminals are? The petty personal dishonesties of Manor-born flackery from the likes of Bill Kristol is small change in comparison.
Maybe it's me; granting Brooks whatever level of personal tolerance he feels but rarely expresses, I don't think there's any question that I'm closer to the average, middling, Negroes-and-Hippies-are-welcome-to-vote-for-us moderate Democrat out there than Brooks is to the Stars n' Bars n' Wifebeater wing of his party (no doubt I'm closer to them, too). But forty years of ersatz liberalism has been enough to keep me from being a Democrat (actually, it took much, much less than that), while Brooks clings to a Republicanism that was disappearing about the time he experienced his first Recess. I'm seriously disturbed by the dishonesty, graft, and hypocrisy of the Democratic party, and they're like a footnote to the seven-volume Republican study. And Brooks supposedly sees this stuff up close, and is paid to ponder it. Tell me how many insider conversations with Karl Rove, or Phil Gramm, or John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell you could have before you began to question if you wanted to share a species with them (assuming we do), let alone a Party? Just tell me how much lower current, Bush administration spending would be as a percentage of GDP if we had eliminated all the spending David Brooks objected to back when it was riding high? How much smaller those trillion-dollar deficits? Where was he and his Army of Moderation bivouacking before Bush and the GOP were safely re-ensconced after the 2004 elections, and before the poll numbers took a nosedive? Huh? What canny new regulations, or actually enforced old ones, would Brooks have put in place and saved all our hides? For that matter, tell me what blank check for what war of adventure we'd have written for Rush Limbaugh, but not for David Brooks. Maybe at this point, per Brooks, gay couples could form civil unions (we're guessing actual marriage might disappear in committee). Fine. That represents a reduction of 350 words out of Brooks' annual 80,000.
That's the answer. Sorry, it may not be wholly satisfying, but it's how things are post-Bush, and it's how it is with everyone who assisted him. We're not required to play the Pooches Were Screwed game when we've got 'em copulating with Queenie on videotape. Yes, we are facing massive deficits from the Stimulus spending, as well as the massive bail-outs, and on top of the disastrous deficit the new administration inherited. The fact that Brooks brings this up (all but the last part) does not make it his "Idea". It makes it the fungo bat lying around loose in the common area that he picked up and started swinging around like that makes him a Big Leaguer. When the fact is he's already disqualified himself.
But if Somerby found Brooks subjected to unfair liberal ire, take a gander at what Brooks himself found:
On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed.
Guess you missed all that liberal ire.
It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.
So, thank Goodness, the Reader will have heard from both sides of the center, it being such an underreported segment of the political spectrum.
they do not see themselves as a group of liberal crusaders....They’re not engaged in an ideological project to overturn the Reagan Revolution, a fight that was over long ago....
I'm sorry to keep interrupting, but I'd just like to note that P.J. O'Rourke, surveying the smoldering wreckage of the economy wrought by unfettered and unregulated capitalism a few months back said only that he'd thought we'd reached that heightened state of awareness where we recognized that government's only proper relationship to Business was that of permanent handmaiden; Brooks stands neck-deep in shit and says, "Thank goodness we're all agreed the stables won't ever need cleaning again."
Now, I'm not gonna search--it's getting warmer by the minute outside--but I will guarantee you that more than one David Brooks column contained a demand that if Liberals didn't like the ongoing disaster in Iraq it was their duty to propose The Solution. Funny how that principle, like so much else from the Right, isn't reversible. It's a colossal fucking problem. You created it. Sorry--not sorry--the solution is of necessity too large to meet with your approval. Fuck you.
the Obama administration will not usher in an era of big government. Federal spending over the last generation has been about 20 percent of G.D.P. This year, it has surged to about 27 percent. But they aim to bring spending down to 22 percent of G.D.P. in a few years....most of the increase, they insist, is caused by the aging of the population and the rise of mandatory entitlement spending. It’s not caused by big increases in the welfare state....The Medicare reform represents a big cut in entitlement spending. It amounts to means-testing the system. It introduces more competition and cuts corporate welfare. These are all Republican ideas....
Dave? Me again. Did you just say cutting corporate welfare is a Republican idea? Do you guys have your own definition of "corporate" too? Do I have to start watching FOX before linguistic drift renders us mutually unintelligible?
Fourth, the White House claims the budget will not produce a sea of red ink. Deficits are now at a gargantuan 12 percent of G.D.P., but the White House aims to bring this down to 3.5 percent in 2012. Besides, the long-range debt is what matters, and on this subject President Obama is hawkish.
He is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending. The White House folks didn’t say this, but I got the impression they’d be willing to raise taxes on the bottom 95 percent of earners as part of an overall package.
Fifth, the Obama folks feel they spend as much time resisting liberal ideas as enacting them. The president resisted union pressure and capped pay increases for government workers. He resisted efforts to create mandatory veterans’ health benefits. The administration plans to tackle the suspiciously large increase in the number of people claiming disability benefits.
I didn’t finish these conversations feeling chastened exactly.
No. And not surprisingly, since they sound like you could have written 'em, if they'd just removed all hope of the Obama administration receiving credit.
Which, mind you, I'm not accusing you of, no sir. Because I don't expect any more of a lot of senior Obama administration figures, particularly the sort who'd bother to "correct" that insipid mush of a column from last Tuesday.
Can't wait to see 'em cut Social Security, though...